The author starts by explaining that he was physically small as a kid and was often bullied. As a result, he was determined to become physically fit as he grew up and at the same time developed an interest in dogs and dog training. These 2 interests came together when, as a Navy SEAL, he saw first-hand a military working dog in action while deployed to Iraq. Mike Ritland became a trainer of Navy SEAL dogs and later started his own business training and supplying working and protection dogs to the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, and other clients. His passion for and experience with military working dogs led him to start the Warrior Dog Foundation to help retired Special Operations dogs live happy lives after their military service is done.
This book presents detailed military history, geography and dog training theory in an understandable way. Mike Ritland also weaves great character building lessons, like following your passion, into his story. At times the details may be a little daunting for some readers, but the story pulls you right back in.
My son was interested by the detailed information on how the military working dogs are trained. The training begins when the dogs are still puppies, with exposure to all different kinds of sounds, people and places. The training methods use positive reinforcement so that the dogs will do a task because they want to and not because they’re afraid. Detailed examples are given of how positive reinforcement is used to teach a dog each step of more complex tasks. My son was fascinated by the training processes described.
The character lesson my son remembers best is Mike Ritland telling the story that his parents did not raise him saying, “Oh, that’s good enough.” The lesson being that you should always do your best.
Navy SEAL Dogs – My Tale of Training Canines for Combat by Michael Ritland is a very interesting read and would appeal to readers of history, military history, and animal training topics. And even better (from a mom’s point of view) than the detailed information provided, is the encouraging life lessons that are taught in an appealing matter-of-fact, non-preachy way.
This would make a great Veterans Day or holiday gift for your favorite veteran or veteran’s family.